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Blanc photos

Tuesday, November 06, 2012 - 05:30 PM

Noel Blanc in front of a mural of his dad, Mel Blanc (Noel Blanc)

Mel Blanc's mountain respite still sits on Big Bear Lake -- a town he made famous in song and which deemed him honorary mayor for more than 30 years. His son Noel and Noel's wife Katherine live there now. I visited them on their wedding anniversary last June. Parts of the house pay museum-y tribute to Mel's genius.

I wish I'd brought a better camera to Big Bear Lake. The majestic vistas in the distance, as you drive east from LA, are enough to make you gasp (as is the altitude --  Big Bear sits at 6,750 feet). Sadly, I only had my puny camera phone. The phone part was vastly more important though. Even with GPS, it's easy to get lost on the way to the house that Mel Blanc built here in 1936. So Noel, Mel's son and keeper of his legacy, "talked me in" once the serpentine mountain highway spat me onto a local road. Chez Blanc sits on the lake proper. Mel used to yank fish out of that water. Once upon a time, Mel, Noel and Elvis Presley motored out in a boat together and happened upon Roy Rogers motoring toward them. Needless to say, there's a pile of history in that spot. And much of it is immortalized in photos, in trinkets...even in a mural in Noel and Katherine's bedroom, depicting a cartoon Mel posing with the bunny that brought him into nearly every American household.

Toward the back of the house is the presidential wall, replete with pictures and letters from Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and Bush the Elder. But, for whatever reason, Mel liked to keep most of his photos in a tiny bathroom near the entrance. They're still there, including this immortalization of his zany grin beside an NBC microphone.  

But to get a true appreciation of Mel Blanc's versatility, check out this interview with David Letterman (embedded here from YouTube) circa 1981. Mel was about the same age that Noel is now.

That's all folks!

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Comments [5]

Tzani

"That's all folks!" A phrase that rightfully is read by his gravestone. I bow before his memory.

Nov. 19 2012 05:36 AM
Robert Stevens from Florida

Your podcast got me interested in consulting Wikipeda for info on Mel Blanc's start in show business. I broke into an involuntary smile just reading about one of his famous non-cartoon characters which I remember from TV's Jack Benny Program:

"One of Blanc's most memorable characters from Benny's radio (and later TV) programs was "Sy, the Little Mexican", who spoke one word at a time. The famous "Sí...Sy...sew...Sue" routine was so effective that no matter how many times it was performed, the laughter was always there, thanks to the comedic timing of Blanc and Benny.

"At times, sharp-eyed audience members (and later, TV viewers) could see Benny struggling to keep a straight face; Blanc's absolute dead-pan delivery was a formidable challenge for him. Benny's daughter, Joan, recalls that Mel Blanc was one of her father's closest friends in real life, because "nobody else on the show could make him laugh the way Mel could."

Fifty years later it might be seen as an unfortunate cultural stereotype, but the character's intransigence in refusing to communicate in anything other than monosyllables beginning in "S" always got the better of the Benny character:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O9s8U0O0XPE

Nov. 17 2012 10:25 AM
Rafael Lara from Miami, Fl

My kids and I loved the story thank you!

Nov. 15 2012 10:12 PM
Hal O'Brien

I lived in Big Bear in the 1970s as a kid -- 4th through 6th grades. I had no idea Mel Blanc was up there.

Nov. 15 2012 05:25 AM
He from Toronto

Always fun hearing about the classic radio stars and golden age of TV. I grew up with Bugs and Mel, Jack Benny etc - but on TV. Too young for early radio but love listening to them . Thanks for the laughs !
...and the YouTube links.. Loved the Carson interview.
G

Nov. 11 2012 08:49 PM

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